This week, we’ll take a quick look at what we can determine about the nature of God based on what we can observe from the natural world, and next week jump right into what I consider the really exciting stuff! Much of the reasoning behind the foundational assumptions of this week’s Signpost has been explored in earlier articles in the series, so it might be a good idea to go back and do a quick review if you feel that you’re missing something.
The first thing we know about God is so obvious that it is often overlooked: God is a creative and imaginative being. It takes a tremendous amount of creativity to make an entire universe out of nothing!
Next, we know that God has personality – that is, he has the property of being a person. Since he created the universe, he cannot be an impersonal force. Impersonal forces can not exercise choice, and the creation of the universe was clearly a choice. Let me illustrate:
Gravity is an impersonal force. When you drop a pebble onto the ground, gravity doesn’t think, “he’s let go of a pebble. I think I’ll cause it to fall to the ground.” and then exerts the required force to draw the pebble to the ground. No, the effect of gravity is an automatic result of the existence of gravity; there is no choice, and gravity can’t decide to not act on the pebble.
Similarly, if God were an impersonal force, then the universe would have sprung into existence the instant God did, and we would eventually arrive at a being with personality, or find ourselves in an impossible infinite regression because if God is an impersonal force, then there must have been a First Cause (creator) of this impersonal force (God), but if THAT god is an impersonal force, then…. you see the problem?
Ok. So, we know that God is a personal and creative being. What else can we know simply by looking at the world around us? I think three more things, at minimum.
1 – God is unimaginably powerful. He would have to be in order to create the universe.
2 – God is rational and logical. The world operates in a rational manner; that is, the physical laws of nature are consistent within themselves (i.e. chemical reactions, the force of gravity, mathematic, logic, etc. do not vary wildly and randomly) it is reasonable to conclude that the creator of these principles and systems is also rational.
3. Judging from the universal moral law that murder is wrong, we know that God values human life.
So, to summarize: We can know just from observing the physical universe that God is a creative, powerful, and rational Being who cares for humankind. Any belief system that is true must be factual, historically accurate, rational, and present a description of God that is consistent with what we know about him from nature.
The Christian worldview contends that the Bible contains the accurate and reliable revelation of the not only the nature of God, but the true nature of the universe and the destiny of humankind. It explains why every person who ever has or who ever will live is subject to God’s judgement, and how we can have a personal and eternal relationship with Him. Christianity also states that there is no hope for escape from damnation other than becoming a disciple of Jesus, who is the Christ.
If this worldview is true, then anyone who does not believe it is a doomed, dead fool. If it is false, then those who do believe it are deluded fanatics.
In order to determine whether Christianity is even possibly true, we must first determine two things: Is the text of the Bible we have today a reasonably accurate copy of the original writings, and if so, what evidence do we have to indicate that what those writings say are true?
The next Signpost will be the first of two posts examining the textual accuracy of the Bible. First, we’ll look at the Old Testament, and in part two we’ll examine the New Testament.